A hypercycle is a new level of organization whereby self-replicative units are connected in a cyclic, autocatalytic manner. The self-replicative units are themselves (auto)catalytic cycles. The hypercycle is a specific model of the chemical origin of life, pioneered by Eigen and Schuster. From random distributions of chemicals, the hypercycle model seeks to find and grow sets of chemical transformations that include self-reinforcing loops. Hypercycles are very similar with autocatalytic systems in that both represent a cyclic arrangement of catalysts which themselves are cycles of reactions. The difference of hypercycles is that the catalysts that constitute them are themselves self-replicative.
- Eigen, M., and P. Schuster. 1978. “Part A: Emergence of the Hypercycle.” Naturwissenschaften 65:7–41. http://www.springerlink.com/index/N1431278021QVP77.pdf.
- Padgett, J.F., D. Lee, and N. Collier. 2003. “Economic production as chemistry.” Industrial and Corporate Change 12:843. http://icc.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/12/4/843.